A short series on Romans 8 – 11. Part 4.
God’s loving plan dawned in unexpected places. It came to light in the corners, the lineages, and the simple instructions that inspired true believers to keep God’s rules about caring for the poor, the stranger/refugee, and the foreigner. Ruth gleaned in Boaz’s field, for instance, because Biblical law required Israel to leave unharvested corners and edges, so the poor could reap it for their sustenance.
God had a plan for kindness, justice, and salvation that wasn’t comprehended by most of his own people. Not everyone left areas for the poor like Boaz did. Though the Lord placed his plan fully before his people, written in the words of the prophets and proclaimed aloud, only those who sought the Lord with all their hearts understood, carried it out, and lived it.
Still today, only a remnant of humanity ever understands how much God loves each one of us and wants us to be his own family.Though the Lord placed his plan fully before his people, still today, only a remnant of humanity ever understands how much God loves each one of us and wants us to be his own family. Click To Tweet
Following the Lord of the universe did not consist of rigidly keeping the commandments. Loving and serving God did not entail disregard for others in order to live rigid, judgmental, pharisaical lives. Not then, and not now. And yet, that is what the most rigid of rulekeepers — the Pharisees — did as they tried to “please” God. Most often, they only wanted to appear to be godly and righteous, while showing no true kindness nor love.
“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:11-13 ESV)."Jesus came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:11-12). #Faith Click To Tweet
“Why did Israel fail to achieve right standing with God through the law? They did not pursue obedience to the law in humble trust, but tried to make it a means of establishing their own righteousness. Such a use of the law led them to stumble over the stone (which was Christ confronting them), for those attempting to establish their own righteousness see no need to believe in Christ” (ESV Study Bible, note on Romans 9:32, Crossway, 2008, pg. 2174).
“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone” (Romans 9:30-32 ESV).
The majority in positions of power — including the High Priest Caiaphas — missed their Messiah entirely and ended up killing him. These unwise leaders deceived the crowd — those who had cheered for Jesus when they thought he rode into Jerusalem as a conqueror on a donkey’s colt. They eventually called for crucifixion when Messiah Jesus stood before Pilate.
Why did this happen? We see why in Jesus’ own words when he entered Jerusalem to their cheers and then afterward when he issued a series of woes upon Jerusalem and its inhabitants.
“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44 ESV).
This was God’s plan. In these two quotations (above and below), Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple Herod had built in Jerusalem. And then, he foretold what would happen when the temple was destroyed and the walls torn down. Both occurred when Titus sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’. . . Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Matthew 23:37-39; 24:1-2 ESV).
They were not willing to love the One who came to redeem them. How often are we like them? How often are we unseeing, just as they were?
Jesus the man is omniscient God the Son, existent from before creation. Just as in the Old Testament, his own rejected him and turned to idolatry. Of course, being God, he knew that when he came to give up his life for them, his own people would reject him once again. Human beings are fickle.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul uncovered the mystery — the fact that God desired all along to save both Jews and Gentiles, non-Jews. This reality was embedded in Messiah’s own lineage. And yet, this truth was discovered by only those who loved the Lord and lived out their obedience to him.
“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:4-6 ESV).
Paul detailed God’s work throughout human history, bringing salvation to not only Jews, but also to Gentiles: Romans 1-4. This culminated in Romans 5, where he explained that salvation for all people is found in Christ alone. The blessings of salvation in Christ are examined in Romans 6-8.
In Chapter 9, Paul details the fact that this particular plan was chosen by God to reach all the people of the world, not only Jews, but also everyone else. It wasn’t only Israel by genealogy, but Israel by election (discussed earlier in this short series). Here we see Paul’s broken heart, for he himself had tried to wipe out the Christian faith before he comprehended that God’s plan involved a crucified Messiah. Paul weeps over his fellow Jews who also initially rejected Christ and over his own part in this.
“I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (Romans 9:1-6 ESV).
So, who exactly were/are God’s own? Paul makes plain that being a biological Israelite, descended from Abraham’s son by Sarah, does not mean that one necessarily belongs to true Israel, who are believers in Messiah Jesus. This is an issue of the heart, not of biological inheritance.
“In order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls. . .’I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy“ (Romans 9:11b, 15b-16 ESV).
He came to his own biological people, and they did not receive him. This occurred in both the Old Testament and the New Testament eras. Therefore, it seems that every time he appears to bring people to himself — twice so far — few recognize him. Few receive him.
What does this mean then, regarding humanity being ready to embrace him when he comes on the clouds in great glory? Even then, the Scriptures tell us, many will attempt to hide under rocks and in caves to escape him.
Consider. How is Christ calling you to himself? Have you been resisting? Have you tried to squelch his urging in your heart? His arms are open to you. He wants you to be his beloved one, his friend and companion for all eternity. Now is the time to turn and face Christ before it’s too late.Consider. How is Christ calling you to himself? Have you been resisting? Have you tried to squelch the urging in your heart? His arms are open. He wants you to be his beloved one, his friend. #Faith Click To Tweet
Who are Christ’s own? Those who place their confidence in him, no matter our race, former creed, or pile of past sins and present failures, believing in him and entrusting ourselves body and soul to him as Savior. These are his, called from his Jewish biological family and from his Gentile beloved ones.Who are Christ's own? Those who place our confidence in him, no matter our race, creed, or pile of past sins and present failures, believing in him and entrusting ourselves body and soul to him as Savior. Click To Tweet
He knew you before you were even born, and he wants you to be his. Turn to Christ, walk away from former sins, and rely on him to help you to grow.
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